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Wednesday, 02 February 2011


Man, that's brutal. You talk about "work-critical plug-ins" that aren't going to be updated -- does that mean those companies have simply left town, and abandoned the product? And when you crash CS4, does that take down only CS4, or does it also take down everything else you have running?

I getting pretty damn tired of this Adobe-Apple war -- the Flash thing with my iPad, the compatibility problems between OSX upgrades. I mostly blame Apple. They have nice design, but have never much cared what their heritage users want. When I get through with this generation of Macs, I may go back to PCs.



Have you tried doing this, but using Photoline instead of CS4? As a platform for running plug-ins, Photoline is very good and it uses pretty minimal resources, so memory issues might be less of a problem. As I've mentioned before, there are 32 and 64 bit versions of Photoline, it easily handles large 16-bit files, it can run plug-ins on 16-bit files (it will also run 64-bit plug-ins, but I assume that isn't useful to you) and color management is supported with color-managed plug-ins. That is a pretty rare combination of features.

It might also be more stable when trying to run the same plug-in multiple times (I have no idea, I'm just saying it might be worth trying). If you run into any problems with a plug-in (the only problem I've run into was a case where there was a problem with color management in the plugin), the Photoline developers will usually look into it and try to resolve the problem.

Best regards,

Is there a way under one of the virtual machine managers that you could run two copies of OSX on one machine, this might protect the memory.

The good old days of switcher when we would run 4 copies of Mac OS ver. 4 at once.


Here in western Washington a "severe weather alert" was posted last week because there was a 'possability' of snow on Sunday evening with accumulations of.....wait for it....ONE INCH!! Of course, it would have been gone by Monday morning.

Dear John,

Fortunately, it's a very clean crash. CS4 aborts, but nothing else is affected, and the running OS remains stable. It's merely one more level of minor inconvenience and nuisance.

An awful lot of useful plug-ins were produced by companies that are no longer in the business. Not surprisingly, many uniquely-valuable ones fall into that category. For example, there is no possibility that Digital ROC is ever going to get updated, and nothing else can do what it does. Focus Magic, which is the only sharpening plug-in I know of that can actually remove camera shake/motion blur, is still stuck in Rosetta; there isn't even a Universal binary for it, let alone a 64-bit version.

This is not an Apple-Adobe problem, per se, it's a 32-bit-64-bit problem. It exists on the Windows side as well. The Apple-Adobe feud (I refuse to dignify it with the term war) goes back at least a decade. My first notice of it was when Adobe declared that they were no longer going to produce Mac updates for certain of their desktop publishing products, only the Windows versions.

I don't care who started it, I don't care who is more at fault. I just want the damned children in the backseat to stop poking each other or, so help me, I'm going to pull this whole industry over and turn it right around.

And there will be NO ice cream.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Dear Adam,

That is an awfully good idea. Photoline has been on my list of programs to take a close look at ever since you recommended it, but I hadn't realized that it might tie very well into this workflow. I'm still getting up to speed on this. I will definitely give that a serious look; it might have some real advantages over using Photoshop for this purpose (not to mention being of immense benefit to people who don't happen to own multiple copies of Photoshop).


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 


At the moment I'm running 10.5.8 having seemingly dodged a profiles bullet, thanks to you. And CS3 because it does what I need and I don't feel like paying for less with an upgrade. Don't you ever get tired of the shakedown?

I thought photography was supposed to be fun. It used to be.

Dear Karl,

What shakedown? No one made me upgrade. Neither the OS nor Photoshop. I *chose* to go to Snow Leopard. Before that, I was at 10.4.11. The profile problem is readily dealt with once one understands it; that was the point of me writing about it. My prints under 10.6.x look great.

If you don't need the substantial benefits of CS5 over CS3, then don't upgrade. Based on Adobe's pattern, you won't be "shaken down" until CS7, when you'll be forced to upgrade or lose the privs to do so. But there'll still be nothing keeping you from sticking with CS3 forever, if that's your druthers.

pax / Ctein


that happens all the time in the management driven computer software world. Design a nice set of incompatabilities and take the consumer hostage, and if found guilty blame it on everybody else like an irritating two year old. Seen it happen and have been involved in so called integration projects to overcome these incompatabilities (and these often fail due to the the same managers who don't understand that not all problems are challenges). Most of the time the customer is non the wiser (aka the fool). Technically it is more than simple to start a 32 bit piece of software in 64 bit environment. Remember when Windows hit the shelf with a 32 bit version, it could run 16 bit software or even DOS software in a seperate Virtual Machine. That costs memory and performance but it can keep these legacy problems (your alligators I like the metaphore) in check in the first place. So if a company (wether it's Apple or Adobe) can't perform that IMHO rather simpel trick (that has been pionered decades ago) they should be ashamed of themselves and go in the fruit selling business.

Greetings, Ed Kuipers

P.S. in 2008 I got so sick and tired of the beforementioned IT-manager-folk that I decided to call it quits.

P.P.S. I think Apple is being led by the wrong Steve, good for business bad for the customer.

Funny thing, the guys over on Focus Magic say they are working on something else and that's why Windows 64-bit and UB versions are delayed. Wonder what that is.

BTW, since there is a 64-bit version of Contrast Master, have you tried that?

Oh man, when I read all this... I realise how happy I am with my darkroom. :)


I'm just waiting for there to be *one* good open-source RAW organiser on the Mac that handles XMP/IPTC metadata, and then I'll be able to dump the only remaining bit of CS5 I actually use in my workflow - Bridge.

(So far I've tried building F-Spot from source, although it fails to start; Shotwell is next on my radar. Any other bright ideas?)

I finally gave up on waiting for my favorite plug-ins to update. I tried and paid for two of the Topaz tools -- the sharpening and noise plug-ins. So far, so good, though they each are different enough from familiar tools that I'm having trouble learning the ropes.

But I still have to launch CS4 -- to run my scanner. Canon never released a 64-bit driver for their 8400F, so I do all my scanning in CS4. No crashes yet. Crossing fingers.

Oh, also I launch CS4 for the Adobe Picture Package and Contact Sheet automations. I hear Adobe moved them to Bridge, which I don't care for or use. Thanks a lot, Adobe.

At least we've all discovered workarounds...

Possibly a stupid question, but have you checked that CS4 and CS5 don't try to use the same scratch file?


"...I'm going to pull this whole industry over..."

You hit it on the head, I've been rereading your post since early this morning and I'm still laughing, you know it's really funny when your the only one in the room and you're laughing...

What people want in a computer system is an appliance that works like it's supposed to when you turn it on. I was hoping that we'd have that by now.

I'll be very interested in your take on Topaz sharpener, Ctein. It does not seem to give many any joy, including Topaz. The whole deconvolution issue is pretty interesting, though.

Best regards,



Why not just run CS5 in 32 bit mode ( easy enough to click the info box that makes it so) and you can use whatever plug-ins you had in CS4, sure it's a nanosecond slower to use, but is there anything you are doing that can't be done in 32 bit?

Then again I don't know what "plug-ins" you are using that are so necessary in your workflow that haven't been updated (unless you are talking about KPTools... )

As far as Topaz Sharpener, try their new program Infocus, it has better controls.

Anything new takes time to adjust to.


VueScan supports your scanner:

You should be able to dump the Canon stuff.


Topaz sharpener works, it just isn't particularly user-friendly. Part of the beauty of Focus Magic was that it was exceedingly simple to use. There was (for the most part) only one thing you could control and that element could only be adjusted in increments of whole numbers. Under most circumstances, it was obvious what the right setting was. One notch below was clearly less sharp, and one notch above usually introduced all kinds of weird aberrations. This made it very fast to use (apart from the time required to actually apply the plug-in itself once a setting had been chosen). The more control you get, the more complexity there is, the more one is tempted to fiddle with seven different sliders to get it "just right". Given the delayed feedback in Topaz' approach, this can be particularly annoying. But I'm not in a position to say that Topaz' deconvolution algorithms actually work less well than Focus Magic. They may even be superior. But whether users are likely to consistently find the optimum settings that produce superior results is a separate issue.

Best regards,

Golly Jeepers, I just can't find 620 film anymore for my LastCenturyFlex. And the lens on the front of that puppy is the best ever for my kind of photography. It's a plot, I'm sure.

Pixel Genius has updated their sharpener to 64 bit, and that answered my most missed tool with CS5. The update included a number of big improvements over the previous version, including a preview mode.
It's my all time favorite sharpening tool.

I know I could run CS5 in 32 bit mode to use the old version, but it's a minor pain to keep switching.


I don't know if you mentioned this before and I missed it, but I am wondering why you don't use Picture Window Pro for all of your work? You have recommended the software before and you seem to like it, so what is it missing? Is it the plug-ins that you already have for Photoshop?


Assuming that you have enough ram and your machine is not deeply into swap, these problems do sound a bit bizarre. I'd say the next step of inquiry would be to track down whether it is a OS X or Adobe or a plug-in problem by using Apple's console app (most programs output their errors to system.log). This may shed a little more light on where the bug is coming from. Finding out the software component it is bombing out on (whether it be an OS X library, an Adobe application or library, or the plugin) may help you identify what the offender is.

The shared swap problem sounds extremely weird: if this is indeed a bug by Adobe or the plug-in it's a huge one. Modern operating systems are designed to ensure that memory space allocated on the stack for each programs is to be respected, so for Adobe to not do this is really unusual.

Also, if it is just an app hang, then using the Apple's Spin Control will tell you which calling part of the application is causing the spinning ball of death.


Ctein - you probably know this but I believe Pixelgenius' PhotoKit SHARPENER 2.0 runs in 64-bit with CS5 on both platforms.

"...an appliance that works like it's supposed to..."

Robert - I suspect that the phrase "like it's supposed to" means a whole lot of different things to a whole lot of different people, some of which might be mutually exclusive.

Dear Ed,

But if Steve W were running Apple, every product would come with a hidden practical joke INTENTIONALLY installed in it. And all your iTunes playlists would automatically sort themselves to favor Grateful Dead cuts.

Not that I'd necessarily mind that.

(Note to the unaware: both Steves are friends of mine, in fact I've known W longer and have much more contact with him than J.)

I've had some off the record conversations with Adobe engineers, and have been told that building a compatibility box for Adobe plug-ins has turned out to be exceedingly difficult. If they were just running within the confines of the OS, that would be okay, but they're also running within the confines of Photoshop, and many of them play kind of fast and loose with anything that Adobe hasn't strictly regulated. I don't know the technical details. Because Photoshop is not a compartmentalized multitasking OS environment, failures in the compatibility box don't merely result in the plug-in not working correctly, but will often crash Photoshop.

In other words it's not a trivial problem. Mind you, I still think they should throw their considerable resources at solving it. But that's a matter of opinion and policy, not base technical competence.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Regarding the "magic command stroke" — that's a good one, but one I love even more is Command-Shift-C. That copies a flattened version of whatever is selected. No need to manually merge.

Dear Erlik,

Yes, the folks over at Focus Magic have been saying that ever since Apple switched to Intel processors. I am disinclined to believe there will ever be an update to Focus Magic.

Ah hah! Harald was supposed to e-mail me when the 64-bit version of ContrastMaster came out. I'll tell him he's bad [vbg] and grab it immediately. Thanks for the heads up.


Dear Tim,

I know several people who are very happy with Bibble, which is available for both Macs and PCs. Not open source, but the comments on the program and the company are quite favorable. (DDB, care to chime in with Opinions? Comments?)

Also, Mac users aren't restricted to just Mac programs. You can run Parallels plus Windows and get very nearly the same performance you would from a native Windows launch. Crossover will run many Windows apps without even requiring you own Windows. I don't know what's available in the way of open source programs on the Windows side, but don't write off the possibilities.


Dear NN,

Not a stupid question. I doubt that's the case because previous versions of Photoshop (haven't checked the latest) gave the scratch file a unique “random” name each time they launched. A standard precautionary measure to keep two programs from both deciding that they're using a file named, oh say, “scratch.tmp"

But it doesn't mean there isn't some sort of other resource contention going on. It's a pretty obscure, pushing-the-envelope situation; I can't fault Adobe for not having BRUTALLY tested running multiple versions of Photoshop at the same time.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Dear John MacKechnie, Jacco and Robert Roaldi,

Hey, if you're doing ordinary stuff computers pretty well are appliances that you can just turn on and use. And if the level of printing you're interested in is no more sophisticated than what the typical, very good printer does in the darkroom –– lightness and darkness, contrast, color balance, dodging and burning in –– you DON'T need Photoshop! You DON'T need to be worrying about color management. You DON'T need to be wrestling with any of the stuff I've discussed in my previous columns regarding performance, compatibility, any of that. You DON'T need to be dealing with exotic third-party plug-ins.

All that stuff only comes into play when you want to be doing really, really advanced printing. In terms of darkroom work, it would be like deciding to become a platinum, dye transfer, or pigment printer, aspiring to be in the same class as folks like Charlie Cramer, Joe Holmes, Jim Browning, Chris McCaw, and… well… me. And that's great if you want to. There's always more room in the clubhouse and we welcome you.

But understand this. That's never been easy. And the point of the complex and sophisticated craft involved has never been to “have fun,” it's been to be able to make great prints. If it also happens to be fun, that's wonderful. If it's not, don't go into the custom printing business [obvious grin].

Maybe advanced printing will someday be as fun and as easy as the photographing side of things is. Not today. But, you can take this to the bank: advanced digital printing is not more difficult nor less fun than advanced darkroom printing. In fact it's a lot easier. It's just a whole different set of skills and lore you need to learn.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

"nn" has an interesting thought about scratch disks. I realize that the iMac has some real limitations in this regard, but have you tried setting up an external HD and using it as the scratch disk for either CS4 or CS5 and letting the other use the boot drive as the scratch disk? (I do not know if your iMac is recent enough to accept an internal SSD, but that might be interesting if it did.)There is also the possibility of some preference (plist) files that simply don't like you running CS4 and CS5 simultaneously. (I am not one for "reading the tea leaves", but if you got a crash report you might try posting it and see if there is someone out there who can make sense of it.

The other thought is what one fellow I used to know did. (I do not think he ever got arid of a Mac.) He had one machine performing one set of tasks, another a second and so on until he had a room full busy. (Each was color calibrated to a particular printer.) I realize that this was undoubtedly more commonplace years ago with slower computers, but it may be that you need to keep a separate 32 bit machine for a part of your workflow and perform only those CS5 functions that work well on your Snow Leopard iMac.

With luck, perhaps someone will come up with plug-ins to do what the troublesome ones used to do well.

Hmm I am seriously considering changing to Mac's but reading about some of the PS problems (and others too) I'm kind of scared now..

Dear Mitchell,

Please read my previous column, linked to in the first paragraph.


Dear Richard,

I think NN is wrong about it being the scratch file, but that's an easy enough experiment to run.

Regarding multiple machines, Ed Kuipers made a similar suggestion to me via email-- since I have a network and file sharing, I could have different versions of Photoshop running on different machines and just move the file between them.

Before anyone gets too involved in this, I should remind them that the "crash on more than one execution" problem is NOT a big problem. I'm using CS4, 90% of the time, to only perform one operation. Then it's back to CS5.It's a minor additional inconvenience, that's all and most definitely not worth my time to investigate deeply (sorry, Pak).

pax / Ctein

I'm not DDB (obviously :)), but I did try Bibble 5 on Windows. And my main problem with it is... it's not Photoshop.

Bibble is not slow (actually, faster than CS5 on the same computer), it has some very nifty features like integrating Noise Ninja, some cute and useful though silly-named modules like the BW conversion and film-look ones, gives out good colour, doesn't suffer from demosaicing artifacts like PS is known to do...

Still, I'm so used to ACR/Photoshop that anything else is simply not it. YMM really V.

Bibble Pro is what got me to switch to shooting all-RAW. It's very speedy, and does an excellent job for what I needed. I like Bibble a whole lot.

But Tim asked about a "raw organizer". While Bibble 5 added cataloging functions, I've literally never tried them; I already have a cataloging system (with a huge amount of data in it that would be a pain to move). I keep my catalog in Thumbs Plus, which incidentally makes perfectly good thumbnails from my raw files, and about everything else -- except PSD files :-).

Bibble Pro 5 is positioned right about where Lightroom is, if I understand things (I've never used LR). It's great for darkroom-level work (with the added curve and highlight recovery and noise reduction we've come to expect from raw processing). I'm not very fluent with the localized adjustment features, though it has some. I use it for doing batch adjustments to images going to web galleries, mostly.

When I put on my "fine printer" hat (which is very clean and new and pretty; looks hardly worn) it's Photoshop, with stacks of curves adjustment layers with layer masks (plus other layers with funny modes).

Bibble is indeed very much not Photoshop.

The space Bibble fills in my photography is when I'm doing events -- occasionally professionally, more often for fun (i.e. snapshots). When I go to an SF convention I shoot hundreds of photos a day; when doing paid event coverage even more.

Making the proofs for that sort of photos, I want to apply adjustments to groups of similar photos. Then I may select a smaller group (or individual photo) and apply further adjustments, and repeat as needed. Then when I'm done I process the whole batch into web proofs, files for print proofs, or whatever I'm doing on that event. Bibble gives me the color and density/contrast power of raw while letting me work in groups, and it processes very very quickly. And I can easily make a different size with the same adjustments if needed.

The full workflow (i.e. not just the final processing) is an order of magnitude faster than turning out that kind of volume one at a time in Photoshop, for me.

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